Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Seattle’s vaunted 12th Man will all play critical roles in determining who ends up in Glendale, Arizona in two weeks. Yet, which set will be around when the dust settles?
Most importantly though, when has the number 12 been this relevant during an NFL championship round?
Not since the days of Terry Bradshaw facing the likes of Kenny Stabler and Terry Bradshaw en route to winning Super Bowl X, has the number 12 held such significance with titles on the line.
Seriously, 12 is the best football number…ever.
The number 4 is my personal favorite. 16 is another that is near and dear to my heart.
However, 12 is this business. In fact, when I played in an adult softball league this season, someone swiped my traditional #4.
You know what was there though?
It’s reliable and comfortable…just like all of the entities rocking 12 on Sunday.
GREEN BAY AT SEATTLE – The Packers bring the most notable number 12 during this NFL season into Seattle on Sunday for the NFC Championship.
As we saw last week, Aaron Rodgers is still dealing with a calf injury that compromised his ability to scramble and move around in the pocket. Unfortunately for the Packer faithful, there is a downside to last Sunday’s performance.
He had two weeks off, barely practiced, and still looked like he was playing on one leg despite killing Dallas last week. That’s a frightening glimpse at what’s to come this week.
If I’m Green Bay, this is the Eddie Lacy Game. It has to be. Lacy must carry 20-25 times to take heat off of Rodgers.
The Packers can win a low-scoring game. Where they will get in trouble in this game is if they keep getting put in third and longs. Normally, if that happens with Rodgers it’s not a truly big deal because he has the talent to get out of hairy situations.
However, he’ll be one-dimensional again and clear passing situations will be bad news for him and allow Seattle’s pass rush to get after him.
It’s too bad Rodgers isn’t healthy because considering the decaying state of Seattle’s passing game, they could take advantage of the Seahawks just enough to grab a win.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to disagree with Betram Skilling and Dante Pibb on this one.
I don’t think it’ll be the Week 1 21-point clubbing in Seattle but it’s not likely to end well for the Pack.
The LOB isn’t going to lose at home in front of the 12th Man to a one-legged man with cable.
SEAHAWKS 27, PACKERS 20
INDIANAPOLIS AT NEW ENGLAND – Sunday will be the fourth time the Andrew Luck-led Colts face the Patriots and perhaps, this time it will not involve Indy losing by three touchdowns.
Earlier this week, NFL Network showed the famous 2006 AFC title game between the Colts and Pats. If you don’t recall, the Patriots saw a 21-6 lead evaporate and the Colts go back to the Super Bowl to setup Peyton Manning’s lone Super Bowl victory.
That game underscored a significant theme for Championship Sunday. It’s not easy winning on the road in conference championship games.
Since that same 2006 postseason, the home team has won 11 of the last 16 conference championship games. If you’re trying to win on the road, it’s just difficult to close those games out and that’s my fear with the Colts.
Even if they somehow turn around their recent misfortune against the Patriots, do you trust them to close out the Pats at Gillette?
No other quarterback turned over the football more during the 2014 season than Andrew Luck’s 29 turnovers.
During his three-game run against the Patriots, Luck has thrown eight interceptions. Boom Herron is his running attack since Ahmad Bradshaw got injured and Trent Richardson is still doing Trent Richardson things.
I think Luck will able to move the ball through the air with his tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen but the “X-Factor” will be the receivers.
Whoever doesn’t draw Revis duty, has to produce. Those opportunities will likely fall on Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief.
Yet, I don’t see Luck being able to play mistake-free against the Pats in his first-ever conference title game appearance.
Conversely, the Patriots will likely be without Colts killer Jonas Gray but isn’t the biggest issue at hand for New England. They’ll likely be on the field without rookie center Bryan Stork, who has been a key cog for the Pats offensive line, and left last week’s win against Baltimore.
Alas, even if the Pats can’t run as effectively, they still have Rob Gronkowski and the Colts don’t. Back in November, Gronkowski threw Sergio Brown out of the club.
While Brown will likely play a lesser role thanks to re-emergence of veteran safety LaRon Landry, Gronkowski will try to put the Pats into an exclusive club on Sunday.
A victory will put the Patriots in its eighth Super Bowl – tying the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers with the most Super Sunday appearances ever.
This game will come down to which #12 can overcome the opposing defense and in this spot, I think it’s obvious.
Mr. Brady will outdo Mr. Luck to reach another Super Bowl.
This time around, you’re right Bertram.
PATRIOTS 30, COLTS 21